28 February 2015

ARCIC and the October Synod

This piece, which I reproduce unchanged, first appeared 22/12/2009. I can't help feeling that it has a curious relevance to the situation in Pope Francis' Catholic Church in this period 'between the Synods'. ARCIC is the ecumenical talking-shop maintained by the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

New ARCIC is to discuss: "fundamental questions concerning the Church - local Church and universal Church - understood as Communion, and on the way in which the local and the universal Church can, in communion, discern just moral teaching".

How very admirable. It facilitates a discussion on the very topical question of the relationship between local and universal, which is not only relevant to the problems of the Anglican Communion and the problems between the Anglican Communion and the RC Church, but was also the subject of that rather acrimonious spat between Ratzinger and Kasper not long before the Conclave. Although there is something a trifle surreal about using ARCIC to get involved in a difference of opinion between a reigning pontiff and one of his senior Cardinals!

And it enables frank discussion to take place about ethical questions which some Anglican provinces have deemed to be within the power of their provincial Autonomy to decide.

I recall, perhaps as long ago as the 1980s, writing an article arguing that, if Rome had any sense, she would require ARCIC, instead of picking over sixteenth century disagreements that comparatively few people care about, to engage with the newly emerging areas of disagreement, particularly 'life' issues and sexual matters.

27 February 2015

Job Sharing?

Why don't people swap roles occasionally? Fr Lombardi could go riding around in airliners making remarks to journalists; then the Holy Father could do the News Conferences explaining what the remarks had really meant.

This year's Vatican Liturgical Schedule doesn't include the Holy Father presiding at the Mass of the Last Supper. Is Cardinal Burke, il Cardinale volante, still free to step into this breach? If, by then, the Swiss Guard has been abolished, he could bring his Knights of Malta to the Lateran to provide Security. Juventutem could waggle flabella over the sedia gestatoria.

I wonder if the Bishop of Rome will be the only able-bodied Latin Rite diocesan bishop in the world not to celebrate the Mass of the Last Supper openly with his priests, deacons, and people? There will of course be sound precedents galore from the much more flexible age of the Renaissance papacy ... it's praxis within the rather more rigid post-Vatican II dispensation that I'm curious about.

26 February 2015

Were Classical statues and buildings pure white marble? Go to the Ashmolean!

Really devoted readers will recall some posts, last October, about a travelling Exhibition I had seen in Copenhagen, when I was again welcomed by the Latin Mass Group to visit their fabulous city. The exhibition, at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, showed plaster casts of Classical sculpture coloured as the originals have been shown to have been coloured by modern research. Pathologically devoted readers will recall how I lamented that this Exhibition, which has been going around the major galleries of Europe and America since 2003, had never visited Britain. Now some parts of it are over here; it is in the Ashmolean Museum, free of charge, until June.

The Copenhagen showing was accompanied by a book-of-the-exhibition which I commented upon (Transformations Classical Sculpture in Colour published by the Gallery; 249DKK; ISBN 978-87-7452-337-6; 351pp; much colour). I repeat here some comments I made in October.

This book must be a fascination for all with an interest in the Classical world (and perhaps also for those curious about the scientific methodologies upon which the conclusions are based). The covers tell you what you're going to get: the Divine Caligula ... always dead scary ... on the front, with his colour partially restored; on the back, the Grave Monument of Phrasikleia, in full colour. And there is more than a gesture towards other ancient analogues, and twentieth century art-history parallels. The only thing a rational person could miss is an index.

Let me, with my little thumb, pick out a plum: a seriously good article by Oliver Primavesi, Professor of Greek in the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet in Munich, on two passages from Euripides and one from Chaeremon's Alphesiboea, referring to the painting of statues. Primavesi is a convincing textual critic, and Englishmen/Englishwomen will be reassured to know that he vindicates Richard (Oude tode[toddy] oude tallo[tallow]) Porson against the Graf Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf (if I've spelt that wrong I just don't care). The Chaeremon passage, after emendation of the text as given in the Deipnosophists, is translated

He studied the views of her body,
resplendent (stilbonta) in her white (leukoi) skin and radiant.
Yet modesty accompanied this with a most gentle blush (eruthema)
thus modifying the brightness (lamproi) of her complexion.
But her tresses, in red blonde colour as of a statue
sculpted with even the details of its curls,
were tossed about luxuriantly in the humming (xouthoisin) breezes.

This interested me because a great deal of the evidence in this volume suggests the normativeness of painting the stone in skin tones. But Chaeremon, with images in his mind of statuary, suggests that only a blush varied the whiteness of her skin ... not pink paint.
My mind, of course, immediately turned to Ovid X, to the account of Pygmalion and his  ... er ... adventures. Here, also, one finds the emphasis on the whiteness (niveum ebur) of the girl-statue. And, here again, the whiteness is changed only when she blushes (erubuit). At no point is Pygmalion's sculpting or its aftermath described as being interrupted to allow the artists to come trotting in with their pigments and to paint the skin-tones. (And cf Lavinia's blush at Vergil XII 64-69.)

At this point, readers will be wondering if there is any evidence that the chryselephantine statues of Athene Promakhos and Zeus Olympios had their ivory bits delicately tinted ... so am I ...

But stay! A later paper by Clarissa Blume (Ruhr-Universitaet Bochum) tells us that "There is moreover diverse evidence that the areas of skin could have been left marble white and simply given a coating of wax ... there are individual statues the painting of which in its entirety is so well preserved (i.e. there are traces of colour on every detail) that the absence of colour traces on the skin areas is striking. ... The group of statues known, or believed with good reason, to have had marble white skin is still relatively small. One can therefore only speculate what purpose was associated with such a rendering of the skin. Based upon comparanda as well as upon ancient literary sources, it may be assumed that marble white and thus an extremely white skin was meant to emphasise the beauty of the subject." Indeed.

An interesting example, all this, of how texts and artefacts can throw light upon each other (as Zanker showed in his work on the Image of Augustus). You will remember the seduction of Venus by her husband Vulcanus in Vergil VIII "dixerat et niveis hinc atque hinc diva lacertis/ cunctantem amplexu molli fovet. Ille repente/ accepit solitam flammam ..." (worthy of Callimachus, isn't it, that witticism about catching fire from snow). Browsing through niveus/candidus/lacteus/albus in the TLL is informative. In rather bathetic terms, one might observe that in a society which saw the house as the proper zone of the female, very pale skin would be a sexual distinguisher, and that, the higher the social class of the female, the more true this would be. So that in the case of Goddesses ...
ADDENDUM Timothy Mowl in his William Kent (p242) says, regarding the multitudinous pieces of naked statuary in the gardens at Rousham, "It should be remembered with dismay that in its naughty heyday virtually every statue at Rousham was painted in natural flesh colours. The effect would have been of a Madame Tussaud's gone nudist ...". Mowl's discussion of Rousham acknowledges debts to a thesis by Professor Susan Gordon, The Iconography and Mythology of the Eighteenth Century English Landscape Garden, unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Bristol, 1999, a version of which may be on the Internet. If it is, I'd be grateful for a link.

22 February 2015

Galloping Morality

I was a Sixth Former when homosexual genital activity was decriminalised; I remember (and was impressed by) the distinction made by the politicians between what was wrong and what should be penalised as criminal. I'm sure they were sincere; I'm equally sure that many of those who had a cruel burden of fear lifted from them would themselves have been less than joyful if they could have known of an age, our age, in which boarding-house keepers and wedding-cake makers and flower-sellers could have their lives made a misery, could even be ruined, for refusing to bow before a newly minted 'Morality'.

Well, that battle, the Gay Rights one, is deemed to have been substantially 'won' now (except within the Catholic Church). The new battle (since we always need a new one) is 'Transgender Rights'. We are told we have to pretend that a man who has been castrated and filled by medics with female homones is a woman. To emphasise that being such a 'trans' is every bit as normal as being unmodified, the Devil's Philogical Department has come up with a new prescribed set of lexical conventions. Humanity is now divided between the 'cis' (that is, a human in its birth gender: I am a 'cisman'), and the 'trans' (the castrated male is a 'transwoman').

English readers as old as I am will remember the heady feminist days when Professor Germaine Greer was the heady feminist icon. She is no fool; she wrote some acute books. Yet the other day there were demonstrations because she had been invited to speak at the Cambridge Union. Why demonstrations? She was once a Fellow of Newnham College in the Younger University, the Statutes of which limit its Fellowship to women. And the Governing Body was intent on electing a 'transwoman'. Greer protested that, whatever this person was, it was not a woman. She resigned her fellowship. So now she is not only persona non grata with the leaders of the Galloping Morality; her views have become so evil that she merits even to be "denied a platform".

It doesn't end there. A hundred or so people, many of them academics, proceeded to put their names to a letter to the Grauniad [the most 'liberal' English daily newspaper] calling for universities again to become places which allowed free speech. Among those who signed, to give him credit, was Peter Tatchell. I write "to give him credit" because, as English readers will know, Tatchell has long been a noisy and determined advocate of 'Gay Rights' and a scourge of 'homophobia'. He is not someone I have often been in the habit of admiring. But he was big enough to be prepared to stand up for Free Speech, and so the Galloping Morality now feels that it would very much rather not have any more support from him, thank you very much.

Hot News: a report flickers up on to my screen that Kings London is not to be outdone by Cambridge: poor silly George Carey is in trouble. He was recently spotted chasing down the road after the Gallopers, shouting "Wait! A horse! Let me ride with you! I adore Euthanasia!". But, nevertheless, his image and likeness is now to be removed from a window commemorating distinguished alumni, after a campaign against him by  ... no, forget it, this is becoming repetitive.

You have to get up extremely early in the morning to keep up with the Galloping Moralists. Wherever will they have got to by tomorrow morning? Spare a thought for their poor overworked horses.

21 February 2015

It's a gun culture down there in the Wild West of Rome ...

Having discharged his kalashnikov at the curial cardinals and their staffs just before Christmas, our beloved Holy Father has now loosed off his twelve-bore into traddy seminarians! From Most Eminent Suburbicarian Cardinal Bishops, primores inter patres purpuratos, right down to the very humblest aspirant for the tonsure, he's got you all in his sights! Bang bang!

Both the Urbs and the Orbis must be seething with clerics whose keyboards are positively itching to deliver an extensive response in kind to the Sovereign Pontiff's own practised and laudable parrhesia!

Canonisation: a topical footnote

Some sources have queried whether the term 'martyr' is appropriate for Catholics to use of the Twenty One murdered Copts. There is, of course, an implied criticism here of the Holy Father.

Any theological response to this query would have to take account of the fact that the calendars of "uniate" churches include commemorations of Saints who died without being in a state of full visible canonical unity with the See of Rome. These bodies include the (Melkite) Patriarchate of Antioch, the See of S Peter, whose Patriarch is, surely, the senior hierarch of the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church after his Brother the occupant of the (other) Petrine See of Rome.

And any such response would need carefully to avoid any suggestion that Catholics not of the Latin churches are somehow not 'real' Catholics; or that the link between the lex orandi and the lex credendi does not apply to their liturgical rites to precisely the same extent as it does to the rites of the Latin churches.

Novi Martyres Coptici, orate pro nobis.

19 February 2015


Unless the interview published yesterday and given in an English translation on Rorate today is totally mendacious, the fact that such a thing can happen constitutes, in itself, a very grave scandal. The involvement in this scandal of the current Bishop of Rome makes it a great deal  worse. The scandal will only be slightly attenuated if Lombardi is wheeled out to give a full explanation.

It is not surprising that we have among many people a great fear that the Holy Father will oversee either a reversal of Christ's and the Church's teaching that Marriage is indissoluble, or else a relaxing of the principle that unrepented adultery, like any other unrepented grave sin, has to be seen as a factor excluding those concerned from the Lord's Table. If such a thing were to happen, it would be a reversal of the teaching of S John Paul II in Familiaris consortio and of Benedict XVI in Sacramentum Caritatis; and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Jorge Bergoglio, as a member of the Catholic Church, is just as much subject to the Church's Magisterium as you are and I am.


SSPX  has a wise long-term policy of excluding sedevacantists from its ranks.

Bishop Williamson, on his Eleison Blog, has repeatedly demonstrated the absurdity of Sedevacantism.

Sedevacantism is pure nonsense.

Catholic theologians are agreed that a heretic cannot be pope, but have differed about how this principle is to be given practical effect. Some have argued that a heretical pontiff ceases to be pope when he adopts his heresy, but that a direct intervention by the Church is needed to certify that the See of S Peter has thus become vacant. Others judge that the heretical pope does not ipso facto cease to be pope, but has to be deposed by a direct intervention by the Church. In either case, this is not an area for Do-it-yourself experts on heresy such as you and me. Sedevacantism is not a personal fashion statement. It is, as far as you and I are concerned, most definitely not an option. 

Let's be honest ... there have been in history occasions when Roman Pontiffs have wobbled in their adherence to orthodoxy .... Liberius ... Honorius ...  In these circumstances, there does have to be a duty to resist that wobble and to decline to give effect to edicts purporting to enact the wobble. But here is the Red Line: at Vatican I, a great deal of historical work was done to ensure that the Decree on the Infallibility of the Roman Pontiff was so worded as not to be vulnerable on such historical grounds. It is watertight. We can be sure that whatever a pope says ex cathedra is protected by the Holy Spirit from any error (but even here, we are not obliged to believe either that the decree concerned was necessary, or that it expressed things in the best of all possible ways). But it is not unknown for a papal decree which falls short of the ex cathedra status to be flawed. Of course, that cannot be a good position for the Church to be in. But it is not some sort of Ultimate Catastrophe! The Church survived Honorius! And so did the Papacy! And, to the end of time, both will survive!

It is very important to remember the limits of the Papal Magisterium. This is best done by a careful reading of the decree Pastor aeternus of Vatican I. That is the touchstone. That is what Christ's One Holy Catholic Church teaches. Do not exaggerate, overestimate, what a pope can do, and then, if some pope or other goes a bit off the rails, or you think he has, or your friend next door tells you that he has, start running around in a frantic fear that you have "lost your faith". The pope is not an Absolute Monarch. B Pius IX made this very explicitly clear. Benedict XVI taught this with determined vigour. This is serious! The Pope is not some God-on-Earth who can never make a mistake! Not a few of them have made quite a lot. There is no reason why the same should not be true in the future. Learn not to fret! Learn to live with it, as so many Catholics in previous generations have done! And if you're the sort of person who can laugh at it, laugh. In any case, sit yourself down comfortably, pour yourself a drink ... and learn the following off by heart:

"The Holy Spirit was not promised to Peter's successors so that they should, by His revelation, disclose new teaching, but so that, with His assistance, they should devoutly guard and faithfully set forth the revelation handed down through the apostles, the Deposit of Faith."

17 February 2015


The recent events, centred upon the visit of the two 'other' Ordinaries, constituted an absolutely marvellous few days.Two brief points:

Mgr Harry Entwhistle is a very good bloke indeed. It was encouraging to hear from him about the Oz Ordinariate, with its bright future all the more bright because of the prospects of developments in the Torres Strait Islands and elsewhere in Asia. WASPery is our danger; but readers will remember the role played in our Anglo-Catholic movement by our unWASP missions in Africa and Oceania. "Colonial prelates from far-off Mission Stations" did his Confirmations for Eric Mascall's 'Ultra-Catholic'; the emeritus Bishop of Accra did the episcopal stuff for Fr Hope Patten at Walsingham. So ... onwards to the past, on this one! And Entwhistle Rules OK!

Mgr Mark Langham gave a fine paper which I encourage you to find and to read on the Ordinariate website. If you can persuade members of the CBCEW to read it as well, they will derive much benefit from it. But, in a sense, it is simply a partial outworking of the great vision which Fr Aidan Nichols described in The Panther and the Hind. The essential point is that the 'Anglican Patrimony' does not consist of a few traditions and practices which are not too harmful and which we in our frailty are graciously allowed to cling onto so as to make our transition into being 'real' Catholics a bit easier for us. Our Patrimony, certainly as much in terms of Theology and Spirituality as in Liturgy, is great gift to the whole Catholic Church, and one which is particularly opportune at this slightly wobbly moment in the life of the Catholic Church. Cometh the hour, cometh the Ordinariate! The whole Church needs what we have in our luggage. Read Langham! Reread Nichols!!

Regular readers will recognise that as the main point of this blog!!

16 February 2015

footnote to the last

It is now a minute or two to six. I'll go and have a look at the News. Doubtless there will be footage from all the capitals of Europe showing the Concerned Classes and the Demonstrating Classes marching in unison and waving banners inscribed JE SUIS COPTE.


Would it be possible for there to be a votive Mass In Commemoratione Novorum Martyrum? It would not specify who precisely fell into this category, and thus the regulations concerning whom one can commemorate liturgically as a Saint or Beatus would not be disturbed; but it would fulfill a need which I, for one, feel.

Neoi Martyres is a term used in the Church of Greece for those who suffered under the Islamic occupation for their Christian faith.

S John Paul II remarked that the twentieth century had known more martyrs than any other period of the Church's history; and urged an ecumenical aspect to the commemoration by all Christians of the martyrs. If I were a pp, I would put into my church a photograph of those Egyptian peasants kneeling in the sand, with a candle stand in front of it.

Novi Martyres Coptici, orate pro nobis.

10 February 2015

Fr Longenecker ...

 ... is a very fine writer with whom I nearly always agree. But it seems to me that he can be a trifle careless ... as, I am sure, I often am. Recently he wrote about how, since 1534, the Church of England has been Protestant.

Firstly: this appears to forget the Reign of Good Queen Mary. It would have been safer, surely, to write "Since 1559 ...". And the assertion that from 1534 until 1547 the Church of England was Protestant is only sustainable given a very narrow and unusual definition of what 'Protestant' means. Henry VIII was still, I believe, burning Protestants.

But more: did S Thomas More refuse the Sacraments before he died, on the grounds that he ought not to hold communicatio in sacris with heretical schismatics? (Roper tells us that it was his custom to go to Confession, to Mass, and to be houselled before major events; before, for example, his arrest.) If he did receive the Sacraments before execution from a priest who had followed Henry Tudor into schism, doesn't that fact make S Thomas himself, according to a rigorist viewpoint, a schismatic? And that is a conclusion which the Roman Magisterium implicitly denied when he was canonised. And there is the question of the 1549 'Prayer Book' rebels, about whom I wrote this back in 2008, before we entered the Ordinariate.
"We had a lovely fortnight in West Cornwall; and I was intrigued to see a monument on the outside wall of the RC church in St Ives commemorating those from the town who died in the genocidal massacres of the Tudor dictatorship after the rebellion of 1549; provoked by the parliamentary attempt to impose Protestant worship.

"I applaud such commemoration. Since History tends to be written by the Whiggish victors, events like 1549 are denied a place in the official memory. But the implication that these were RC martyrs seems to me to need explanation, at least on the part of those RCs who believe that you have to be in full visible canonical union with the See of Peter in order to count as a 'Catholic'. For those who died in the aftermath of the 1549 were not in that full communion. Indeed, in the Articles they produced they did not demand restitution of links with Rome; the rebels tended to emphasise - one can see why - that the status quo bequeathed by Henry VIII upon his death should not be varied during the minority of his son. What they rebelled for and what they died for was the traditional worship of their Parish Churches."

I have written several times about the ambiguities which make it difficult to be rigidly black and white about relationships between Latins and Byzantines in the second millennium. Things were more fluid .... more, if you like, messy. And with regard to Anglicanism, I do not see (happily, looking at it now from a perspective within Full Communion) how the sort of rigidity which says "They were Protestant after 1534" either fits snugly and logically into all the historical facts, or serves to improve relationships.

Benedict XVI made it clear that we were to bring into Full Communion within the Ordinariates what God did with us and through us and in us during the centuries of schism. (Not, of course, what the Devil did with us and through us and in us during those centuries.)

I think this inspired policy on the part of a great pontiff deserves a generous hermeneutic.

9 February 2015

"Salvete atque valete"

Connoisseurs of really quality blogs will be delighted to know that Salvete atque valete has woken up after a quiet patch. And with a vengeance!! It's the Patrimony, you know!

The subject it deals with, in the first Post of its Resurrection Life, is important and won't go away: the centrality of the Priest's Wife and Family to the ethos of what we Anglicans built up in our centuries of isolation from Catholic Unity. Clerical Marriage, as we have known it, is not a rather pathetic Lesser Good than the normative Celibacy of Latin Christianity; some sort of concession to weakness. It is in itself a demanding and sacrificial model of sacerdotal life; a beautiful flower which the Lord tended in our part of the garden when the connecting gateway to the other parts of the garden was bricked up.

I suspect that few of us would want the tradition we have inherited to be used as, or in some way become, an engine for the demolition of the Western norm. In this sexually obsessed world, there has never been a greater need for the bright light of Celibacy as a Sign that Sex is not inevitable; not dominant.
And we must not over-romanticise the Married Priesthood. Somebody once sent me a page or two of the American Clergy List, which detailed the matrimonial history of PECUSA clergy ... and how very common divorce seemed to be; often, multiple divorce. Nor does a permission for clerical marriage guarantee that there will be no sexual hanky panky. On the contrary: priests' wives themselves are not ring-fenced from the snares of the World, the Flesh, and the Devil! And husbands, even clerical ones, can do wicked things in frustration because of problems in their marriages. We all need to be very careful indeed, and not clutch at facile 'solutions'.


6 February 2015


A pseudonymous individual who likes anonymously to emit abuse and has a thing about the Ordinariate and my Ordinary and me and Joseph Ratzinger and heaven knows who else has sent me yet another bit of abuse. He/she is preoccupied with sex and has a ferocious manner fueled by anger and frustration ... and, curiously, a wish that I should enable his/her "comments".

If you really want to persuade me, Thingummy, to enable your "comments", send your name, address, email, marital status, size of family, Curriculum Vitae, etc.. (I won't enable it onto the blog if you don't want me to.) After all, I don't hide my identity. Omnia fiant ex aequo. Go on! Don't be shy!

Chicken!  Bore!

I received a very gracious and Christian apology from a person who, sadly, got himself involved in all this; I accept it and, in return, express my regret if my manner drove him to it! I know I am not everybody's cup of tea. I assure him of my prayers; I will say Mass for him and his family later this week, asking God to bless his ministry. 

I also accept his assurance, which confirms the conclusion I had come to on stylistic grounds, that he is not the person alluded to in my original Post, above. I'm pretty sure (again, on stylistic grounds) that I know who that person is. Indeed, he is a chicken and a bore.

I have deleted most of the thread. I thank the authors of some very kind and moving comments.
Apologies to those who feel they've better things to do with their time than read this sort of stuff. I won't return to this matter.


A very small, but perfectly formed, Exhibition, gathered from the treasures of Bodley, commemorating Aldus Pius Manutius, who died on February 6 1515. Just one case, on your right as you go into the Proscholium. (Ends on February 22.)

The decades covered by Aldus' working life were, surely, feverishly exciting: Venice full of Greek refugees (Aldus insisted that only Greek was spoken in his workshop!); loads of Greek manuscripts saved from Constantinople swilling around; Aldus and all the others experimenting with the new technology of printing. There must have been sensation after sensation: "Did you hear? So-and-so has just come across a manuscript of such-and-such!!" You only have to look at the apparatus beneath any page of Catullus to be reminded how much we owe, in the recovery of that poet a textu corruptissimo, to the emendations that were whizzing round Venice and the Veneto in a society where the distinction between Scholar and Printer must often have been blurred. (Dirk Obbink would have been in his element, not to mention the Anonymous London Collector who is not a German Officer!!)

It was Aldus who invented punctuation as we know it today, and italic for the smaller, handier, octavo volumes, exemplified in this Exhibition, which he produced for the convenience of the docti. But the most spectacular thing on show is his edition of the Hypnerotomachia of Poliphili, open (not at the God of Lampsacus but) at the engraving of the Monster Hollow Elephant (or should I say Olyphant?).

One tiny oddity. The Exhibition's master caption laudably refers to Aldus' association with the great humanist scholar Pietro Bembo. It doesn't mention that Bembo was a Cardinal. And, a few months ago, an exhibition in the same case about the foundation of Exeter College (in 1314) failed to mention that its founder was a bishop. Is there a plot in this secularised University to let the Catholic Church's centrality in European cultural history fade from the public memory?

5 February 2015

You read it here first!

According to the English Version of the Bollettino, the Holy Father addressed the Catholic bishops of Greece as "Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Episcopate"!!

P.Scr. The Catholic Byzantine Rite Bishop in Greece is called by the Bollettino an "Esarch"! Eparchs and Exarchs I am, of course, familiar with; but Esarch ...

English readers will know of the incident back in the nineteenth century when a typesetter at the Times newspaper introduced the F-word into a parliamentary report. They never did discover his identity.

In the College Mag at Lancing, where at one point the Common Room included a Sensitive and Animal-loving young woman, some malefactor once interpolated, into a piece listing what she did in her vacations, the phrase "seal-clubbing". He (I think it was a He), also, was never tracked down.

Looks as though Fr Lombardi's office also has a ****** in the woodpile! Long may she flourish!

4 February 2015

More than sherds

I'm afraid I just declined a very amusing comment simply because it was typed in with so many bits of carelessness. Never forget that I am really just an usher.

I've also declined one or two recently, purely on account of my own whimsy. In one case it was because of the condescending manner in which, with no reference to facts I thought I was working with, it advised me that Common Sense knew better. In another case, the writer seemed to want to make it clear that popes are gods-on-earth and everyone knows that they can do anything ... again, without deigning to comment on magisterial texts I had cited.

I don't have to enable anything. Many blogs nowadays have given up accepting comments.

3 February 2015


I expect you've all seen the Notice of Evensong in the Assumption, Warwick street, at 6.30 on February 8, next Sunday. An occasion not to miss! The place to be seen!

The old High Churchmen made much of their (theologically unviable) 'Branch Theory' of the Church. But, culturally, Sunday's Evensong will be a demonstration of the three 'branches', Roman and Eastern and Anglican, which they chattered so much about.

Joining Keith our Ordinary, the other two Ordinaries are due to be there, hotfoot from the colonial fastnesses of North America and Australia, so that the gathering will represent the three main groups of us Anglicans United But Not Absorbed (what is the collective noun for a gathering of Ordinaries?). His Eminence Vincent Cardinal Nichols will be in choro; I recall those moving words of B John Henry Newman, in his Second Spring Sermon, about the presence of  "a Prince of the Church, in the royal dye of empire and of martyrdom, a pledge to us from Rome of Rome's unwearied love, a token that that goodly company is firm in Apostolic faith and hope". The warmth with which Cardinal Vincent supports us means a lot to us.

But .... Hooray! Another splendid thing! The Eparch himself will be present, Bishop Hlib, the Ukrainian Bishop for Great Britain and Ireland, representing the Byzantine Rite, the Eastern Lung of the Catholic Church (it was in 2013 that Benedict XVI elevated the Exarchate to an Eparchate). I say 'splendid' because his gracious presence will be a tremendous witness to the importance of diversity in the Catholic Church. There are still people who sometimes wonder why we Anglicans in Full Communion with Rome can't be content just to be 'mainstream' 'diocesan' 'ordinary' 'run of the mill' Catholics. Why these very obvious differences of ethos? Why these varieties of style? Why these liturgical diversities? Why the irritating little idiosyncrasies of manner? Why the unusual preferences? Bishop Hlib is one of a number of answers to these naive questions. Eis polla ete Despota! And may the Lord's blessing rest upon the heroic Greek Catholic Church of the Ukraine, the Church of the Martyrs! You are a most welcome guest. From you, we have so much to learn!

It's what 'Catholicism', the gathering of all nations, of all Christian cultures, of all Christian traditions, into the One Catholic Church, cum Petro et sub Petro, is all about.
Those bound to the Divine Office fulfil their obligation by being present at any celebration of the Office according to any Catholic Rite. And the Anglican Use is a Catholic Rite sanctioned by Rome, and our Evensong represents both Vespers and Compline (Evening Prayer and Night Prayer) according to the the Roman Breviary and the Liturgy of the Hours.

I wrote "the three main groups" because, of course, the good old Anglican Use Provision is still very much alive and flourishing, with its large academy and its vast congregations and its superb liturgy, down there in San Antonio. Never to be forgotten! And unforgettable to those of us fortunate enough to have been there!! The tinkle of the bells on the thurible!!!

2 February 2015


Does anybody have chapter and verse for the claim that Pio Nono declined to add S Joseph to the Canon on the grounds that "I am only the pope"?